At out most recent show right in Silkeborg, sitting at the side of the arena, I was reminded of yet another valuable piece of Pam's (Goodrich) advice: Don't win the warm-up. I got to watch a good bit of both warm up and competition. I was watching an L class, which is equivalent to First Level (this is also the level I competed in.)
I saw both young horses with professionals, and school horses with inexperienced riders. It is intimidating to see some of these young horses move... they are unbelievable. The combination of being well ridden and environmentally stimulated (thus moving with their toes around their ears and their hocks hitting their stomach!) makes them seem unbeatable. But I observed many horses go into the competition ring and change. For some, their gaits became earthbound when the whip was taken away since it is not allowed to show with a whip here. Some hot horses were unable to deal with the change of venue and were excused. I saw some sloppy riding and careless mistakes. It was a good reminder that every movement counts equally, whether it is an extended trot or a halt.
It seems obvious to take your best performance into the competition arena, but it is also easier said than done. Test riding is a skill that is completely different from the ability to train and ride a horse at home. During a competition, it seems nearly impossible to make a correction that looks effortless, continue to ride an accurate test, and most importantly, train and help the horse so it doesn't happen again. I have always tried to figure out what exactly makes a good show rider because I personally find it difficult, as I think many do! It is so frustrating to have a great warm up, but then upon entering the arena have things fall apart. I am constantly trying to figure out this odd mixture of criteria. I was happy with my second test on Dino because I was able to ride through it and he was right there with me. It is a lot to ask of any horse, especially a 5 year old!
Precious. Bob likes the bike too!
Yearlings, 2 year olds and pony. New field yipee!
Learned a new braiding technique.
Dino and I at the show.
4th place, 69%!